Gallery to get earthquake strengthening
The Eastern Southland Gallery is unlikely to suffer the same fate as the Southland Museum and Art Gallery in Invercargill - with the building due to undergo structural strengthening to ensure it meets earthquake standards.
An initial seismic assessment from a structural engineer showed that there was no significant risk in occupying the building, and the John Money Wing extension is not considered to be earthquake prone.
Work will include joining the west wall more securely into the existing work structure and bracing the parapet and cornice back to the roof structure.
Work on the building, which was built in 1909, is expected to start in July and will cost $800,000, which the Gore District Council will fund by way of a loan.
Gallery curator Jim Geddes said some exterior walls will be braced with flashings and some masonry will be reinforced, but the building was in ‘‘pretty good nick for its age.’’
‘‘There’s been no risk to anyone being here,’’ Geddes said.
‘‘This will be the first time the Gore District Council has spent any money on this building in 109 years.
‘‘It’s been so well built it’s remained in very good condition.’’
The gallery houses the inter- nationally renowned John Money collection, a collection of Ralph Hotere works and hosts exhibitions.
Geddes said the gallery attracts about 20,000 visitors a year and rates highly in the Gore District Council’s residents opinion surveys.
The building opened as one of 18 free libraries around New Zealand funded by Scottish-born American businessman and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.
It was designed by ER Wilson of Invercargill, built for £2000 and came in under budget.
A maintenance fund for the building was established by selling land to the Department of Courts.
That land is where a new Gore District Library was established in 1983.
Eastern Southland Gallery Incorporated moved into the building in 1984 and, between 2001 and 2003, $1.3 million was raised to redevelop it.
The gallery may close for two weeks while the work took place, which would give the chance to ‘‘tidy up’’ the entrance way foyer, hang new signage and install new lighting.
‘‘The works we display are national treasures and we need to have a much better lighting system than we have here now.’’
The Southland Museum and Art Gallery in Invercargill closed indefinitely last week because of earthquake risk.